University interviews can be a rattling experience - after all, their success determines the next few years of your academic career, future job prospects, and beyond! In this guide, we explore how best to prepare for your interview.
Every university has its own slightly unique take on the questions they ask and what they are looking for in their prospective students, and some programmes are more selective than others. It’s important to check the information provided on the university’s website and in your information packs to verify whether an interview is compulsory, when it may be held, and what format it may take (i.e. one-to-one, panel, etc).
Generally speaking, Admissions Tutors ideally seek a student who shows:
• Commitment and passion for the course subject
• Time management skills
• Ability to study independently and work well with others
• A genuine interest in the university you’re applying to!
But how do you go about demonstrating all of the above? During the admissions process, more likely than not, the interviewer will not directly ask ‘Can you study independently?’. It’s up to you to show them you’re an ideal candidate with the answers you provide.
Below, we’ve created a list of ten top tips to help you successfully prepare for your interview.
Research the University
One of the most important things to remember is to exhibit an authentic interest in the university. Think of it this way: given that the degree course you’re applying to is most likely offered by lots of different universities around the UK and the world, what makes this university stand out? Could it be the professors associated with the programme? The alumni that have gone on to become experts in the field?
Besides the academics, have you researched other aspects of the university? Do they offer a list of university societies and sports teams you would be interested in? What is campus life like? Think about what contribution you would make to the student community and why you would love to be accepted.
Reflect on the Subject You’ve Chosen
Similar to the previous point, what has inspired you to pursue this degree subject? Reflect on what you have enjoyed most about your current studies and what aspects of your life and outside influences have led you to this decision.
Consider also the skills you already possess and have developed that will make you a successful student on this degree course and what your goals for the future are. What aspects of the course interests you most and how will that help in accomplishing your ambitions?
Sell Yourself and Your Achievements
Differentiate yourself from other candidates in your interview by talking about something that no one else has: your experiences and your achievements!
This point can touch upon all the factors the Admissions Tutor might be looking for: showing that you belong to a team, club or group can demonstrate how well you’ve worked alongside others and important decisions you’ve had to make. If you’ve won an award in the past, talk about that and how this demonstrates your goal-setting skills.
Find a Practice Buddy to Bounce Ideas Off
The more you practice the various scenarios you could encounter, the more you will feel and be prepared for the real thing! You can bounce ideas off of a friend or family member. Preparing for and participating in mock interviews helps to boost your confidence and to provide you with useful feedback in a low-stress environment where you’ll be more likely to action any areas of improvement.
Speak to Alumni and Students Familiar with your Course
Within your chosen degree subject and university, are you friends or associated with any recent graduates? Professors? Current students? If so, they can be valuable sources of information: from the admissions process to what university expectations and life is like.
Draw upon their knowledge and experience and make notes of what their thoughts are and what they consider steps to succeeding within your course.
Structure your Answers
Sounding relaxed and confident is one thing, but it’s important that your answers touch upon what the interviewer is really looking for and cover exactly what you want to communicate.
The STAR method gives structure to your responses and allows you to give evidence to situations the interviewer may ask:
Situation - the situation you had to deal with
Task - the task you were given to do
Action - the action you took
Result - what happened as a result of your action and what you learned from the experience
In the context of the course you’re interested in, start off by giving the interviewer a brief outline of the situation, then the main issues involved with the situation, then what you did to achieve the desired outcome, and finally what you learned from the experience. More information can be found here.
Ask and Prepare Pertinent Questions
Having a list of your own questions to ask an interviewer makes you look interested, enthusiastic and engaged - essentially, it lets them know you’ve done your research! It also offers you a final opportunity to showcase your qualities and gives the interview another chance to get to know you.
Be the Best Version of Yourself
On the day of your interview, take the time to relax and breathe: remember, this isn’t just about the university interviewing you, but rather about whether or not you would like to ultimately begin your journey at this university too.
Allowing yourself time to have a breather will mean a deeper level of awareness and will provide you with the necessary energy during the interview.
Find an Expert to Help you Navigate your Interview
At Titanium Tutors, we recommend finding an experienced tutor who has the know-how to best advise you on your admissions process. With thousands of tutors on our books, we boast a list of alumni from universities all around the globe! We offer tutors in a range of band rates, from university undergraduates to professors.
Practising with someone who is a skilled interviewer or who has been through the exact same admissions process will mean that you will receive the best feedback. As a result, you will gain a better insight and understand what needs to be improved and how, which will take the stress off your real interview!
If you are interested, please contact us to learn more.
Blog Post Crafted by Cheryl
Cheryl manages our Admin Team, and is a qualified teacher with 5 years' experience in schools across England and Canada.
Cheryl graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce and a Minor in English, and from University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Education, with a specialisation in Aboriginal Studies. She tutored secondary school students in English for over nine years in Canada.
Cheryl speaks Cantonese, English and French, and in her spare time, she can be found illustrating and reading children’s books for inspiration.